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One-on-One with Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan sits down for an exclusive interview with Marvin R. Shanken, Editor and Publisher of Cigar Aficionado.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Michael Jordan, July/August 2005

(continued from page 2)

MRS: Where did you learn your work ethic?
JORDAN: My parents.

MRS: People say that nobody practiced harder, and you worked as hard in practice as you did in a game. There were no two different levels. Is that true?
JORDAN: I was taught to do it that way by my parents, and by the way they approached their daily activities. It wasn't half-assed. So I practiced like I played. So when I played, playing was fun. Practice is work. You're working on the idiosyncrasies of what your game needs, so when the game comes, you showcase it and you utilize it. You build your game on it. Practice wasn't just a place to take time off. You work on things in practice. On shooting, on going left or on using your left hand—those types of things that help you get better.

MRS: You were drafted number three. Did you have any idea before the draft where you were going to go? Were you surprised? Were you disappointed?
JORDAN: At the time I committed to go pro, because of Coach Smith's research, I was projected to go to Philly because Philly was in the third spot. Back in those days, the draft was based on wins and losses. So at the time, Philly was in the third slot. Billy Cunningham was the coach, and he was a Carolina guy. He said based on where we are right now in the third slot, Michael won't go less than three because we'll take him at three. Coach Smith knew that plan. But Chicago started losing games. In those days, if you lost games, you could move up in the draft. So once Chicago moved into third place, Philly moved to fifth because Dallas was coming in as an expansion team and they had the fourth pick. I could have easily gone back to the fifth pick. But then we got assurance from Houston that if they lost the coin flip to Portland, they'd take me—it was a coin flip between the top two teams to determine the first pick. But if Houston won the coin flip, they said they were going to take Hakeem Olajuwon. And that's exactly what happened. Hakeem Olajuwon went to Houston, and Portland went to its fallback pick, which was Sam Bowie. If Portland had won the coin flip, they would have taken Hakeem, and I would have ended up in Houston. But the coin flip came up Houston, and that put me back to third with Chicago.

MRS: Did you have a preference for which city you wanted to play in?
JORDAN: Not really. At that time, I just wanted to be drafted.

MRS: You were born in Brooklyn, New York. I just want to remind you. [Lots of laughter]
JORDAN: I don't think New York was in the picture. I don't think they had a pick that year. But at that time, you just want to get in the league. I didn't watch much pro basketball until I got into college, so I just wanted to play in the NBA.

MRS: What was your original deal in Chicago?
JORDAN: Financially? People are going to love this. It was a seven-year deal. I averaged about $850,000 a year. The first year's compensation was $650,000. There was no signing bonus. We tried to get an attendance clause. They were averaging 6,000 people a game. So we thought, OK, we're going to ask for an attendance clause. At the time, Jonathan Kovler was the owner. My agent, David Falk, went in and asked for that. Kovler said, We're not going to give him an attendance clause because if we draft him at the three spot, he'd better put people in the seats. So they never gave us an attendance clause.

Michael Jordan portrait.
MRS: So for the first seven years, you didn't get a raise?
JORDAN: Nope, that was my deal.

MRS: Were you unhappy about that?
JORDAN: No, I wasn't unhappy. Money didn't drive me at that time, so I wasn't worried about it. Once I signed my contract, I felt like, Let's go out and earn the money. And, I was the highest-paid rookie at the time.

MRS: Do you have a happiest memory or a peak moment when you were playing with the Chicago Bulls?
JORDAN: My happiest moment? There were so many. Do you want me to start early in my career? Making the playoffs the first time was the biggest thing for me because that franchise hadn't experienced the playoffs in a long, long time. The fans' attitude was "wait until next year, wait till next year."

In the third game of my career, we were playing Milwaukee and we were down 16 points going into the fourth quarter. People started to leave. That was their whole attitude. The game was over. I'd never experienced people leaving a game like that. It was something new. Everybody at North Carolina stayed until the end of the game, out of respect to the team.


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Comments   1 comment(s)

Ron Comrie — Lakewood Ranch, Florida, United States,  —  December 26, 2012 1:49pm ET

Can you please tell me the name/style of the Movado watch Michael Jordan is wearing on the cover photo? Thanks.


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